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History of American comics

History of American comics
Superhero The Flame, created by Will Eisner in
The history of American comics started in 1842 with the translation
of Rodolphe Tpffer's work: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck.
Local artists took over this new medium and created the first American
comics. But it is not until the development of daily newspapers that an
important readership is reached through comic strips. The first years
corresponded to the establishment of canonical codes (recurring
character, speech balloons, etc.) and first genres (family strips,
adventure tales). Characters acquired national celebrity and were
subject to cross-media adaptation while newspapers were locked in a
fierce battle for the most popular authors.
The second major evolution came in 1934 with the comic book, which
allowed the dissemination of comics (first reprints of comic strips) in
dedicated media. In 1938, when Superman appeared in one of those
comic books, began what is commonly called the Golden Age of
Comic Books. During World War II, superheroes and funny animals
were the most popular genres. Following the decline of the
superheroes, new genres developed (western, romance, science fiction, etc..) and reached an increasingly important
readership. At the beginning of the 1950s, with the emergence of television, comic books sales began to decline.
Meanwhile, they suffered many attacks on their alleged harm to youth. For instance, the introduction of the Comics
Code Authority removed the detective and horror series incriminated; though nor comic strips or magazines were
affected by these attacks.
In 1956 began the Silver Age of Comic Books with the return of the preference for superheroes, such as Flash and
Green Lantern by DC Comics. If Dell Comics and its comics for children remained the leading publisher of comic
books, genres other than superheroes started to decline and many publishers closed. Very popular superheroes,
mainly created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, appeared in Marvel Comics. This turned into the leading publisher of
comics in the next period known as the Bronze Age of Comic Books (from the early 1970s to 1985) during which
the stories became less manichean while superhero comics maintained their hegemony. The distinction between
these two periods is often associated by historians to an event but it is rather a series of changes that affected many
aspects of the comics world. At the same time, underground comics appeared, which, aesthetically, addressed new
themes, and economically, were based on a new distribution model. Comic strips continue to be distributed
throughout the country and even some of them gained international dissemination, such as Peanuts.
The modern period initially seemed to be a new golden age when writers and artists recreated classic characters or
launched new series that attracted millions of readers. However, it was then marked by a series of crises that threaten
the financial stability of many agents. Alternative comics, successors of underground comics, develop in line with
Art Spiegelman and his Maus. On the other hand, the comic strip experienced a crisis more pronounced in the 2000s
and linked to that of the press as a whole, while at the same time a new American product, the webcomics, sprang.
Different periods
American historians generally divide comics chronologically into ages. The first period, called Golden Age,
extends from 1938 (first appearance of Superman) to 1954 (introduction of the Comics Code). The following period,
the Silver Age, goes from 1956 to early 1970s. The Bronze Age follows immediately and spans until 1986.
Finally the last period, from 1986 until today, is the Modern Age. This division is standard but not all the critics
apply it, since some of them propose their own periods. Furthermore, the dates selected may vary depending on the
History of American comics
authors (there are at least four dates to mark the end of the Bronze Age).
In A Complete History of American Comic Books, Shirrel Rhoades resumes the canonical division but cites Ken
Quattro, who proposes three heroic periods (from 1938 to 1955, from 1956 to 1986 and from 1986 until today)
Rhoades also cites Steve Geppi who, taking into account comic strips, divides the history of comics in ages
victorian (Victorian Age, from 1828 to 1882), of platinum (Platinum Age, from 1882 to 1938), of gold
(Golden Age, from 1938 to 1945), atomic (Atom Age, from 1946 to 1956), of silver (Silver Age, from
1956 to 1971), of bronze (Bronze Age, from 1971 to 1985), of copper (Copper Age, from 1986 to 1992), of
chrome (Chrome Age, from 1992 to 1999), and modern (Modern Age, since 2000). Randy Duncan and
Matthew J. Smith, in The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture, prefer to speak of an era of invention,
proliferation, diversification, etc. Consideration of comic strips in the general history of comics has led some,
including Steve Geppi, adding two periods before the Golden Age: the Victorian period (from the beginning, from
1828 to 1882) and the Platinum Age (the period of comic strips). In fact, originally only the golden age and the silver
age had a right of citizenship since the terms Golden Age and Silver Age had appeared in a letter from a reader
published in the n 42 of Justice League of America in February 1966 that stated: If you guys keep bringing back
the heroes from the Golden Age, people 20 years from now will be calling this decade the Silver Sixties!.
The beginnings (from 1842 to the 1930s)
The origins (from 1842 to the 1880s)
A tale of Arthur Burdett Frost dated 1881.
Comics in the United States originated in the early European works. In
fact, in 1842, the publication Les amours de M. Vieux-bois by
Rodolphe Tpffer was published under the title The Adventures of
Obadiah Oldbuck. This edition is a pirating of the original work as it
was done without Tpffer's authorization. This first publication was
followed by other works of this author, always under types of pirated
editions. Tpffer comics were reprinted regularly until the late 1870s,
which gave American artists the idea to produce similar works. In
1849, Journey to the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags by James
A. and Donald F. Read was the first American comic.
Domestic production remained limited until the emergence of satirical
magazines that, on the model of British Punch, published drawings and
humorous short stories, but also stories in pictures and silent comics.
The three main titles were Puck, Judge and Life. Authors such as
Arthur Burdett Frost created stories as innovative as those produced in
the same period by Europeans. However, these magazines only reach
an audience educated and rich enough to afford them. Just the arrival
of technological progress allowed easy and cheap reproduction of
images for the American comic to take off. Some media moguls like
William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer engaged in a fierce competition to attract readers and decided to
publish cartoons in their newspapers.
History of American comics
Establishment of comics codes
The funnies
Cover of the New York World, owned by Joseph
Pulitzer, Christmas 1899.
The period of the late nineteenth century was characterized by a
gradual introduction of the key elements of the American mass comics.
Then, the funnies were found in the humor pages of newspapers: they
were published in the Sunday edition to retain readership. Indeed, it
was not the information given that distinguished the newspapers but
the editorials and the pages which were not informative, whose
illustrations were an important component. These pages were then
called comic supplement. In 1892, William Randolph Hearst
published cartoons in his first newspaper, The San Francisco
Examiner. James Swinnerton created on this occasion the first
drawings of humanized animals in the series Little Bears and Tykes.
Nevertheless, drawings published in the press were rather a series of
humorous independent cartoons occupying a full page. The purpose of
the cartoon itself, as expressed through narrative sequence expressed
through images which follow one another, was only imposed slowly.
The Yellow Kid published in the New York
Journal from 8 November 1896.
In 1894, Joseph Pulitzer published in the New York World the first
color strip, designed by Walt McDougall, showing that the technique
already enabled this kind of publications. Authors began to create
recurring characters. Thus, in 1894 and still in the New York World,
Richard F. Outcault presented Hogan's Alley, created shortly before in
the magazine Truth Magazine. In this series of full-page large drawings
teeming with humorous details, he staged street urchins, one of whom
was wearing a blue nightgown (which turned yellow in 1895). Soon,
the little character became the darling of readers who called him
Yellow Kid. On October 25, 1896, the Yellow Kid pronounced his
first words in a speech balloon (they were previously written on his
shirt). Outcault had already used this method but this date is often
considered as the birth of comics in the United States.
Yellow Kid success boosted sales of the New York World, fueling the
greed of Hearst. Fierce competition between Hearst and Pulitzer in
1896 led to enticing away of Outcault by Hearst to work in the New
York Journal. A bitter legal battle allowed Pulitzer to keep publishing
Hogan's Alley (which he entrusted to Georges B. Luks) and Heast to
publish the series under another name. Richard Outcault chose the title The Yellow Kid. Published in 1897, Yellow
Kid Magazine consisting of sheets previously appeared in newspapers and it was the first magazine of its kind.
History of American comics
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Article Sources and Contributors
Article Sources and Contributors
History of American comics Source: Contributors: Andreasmperu, Cattus, Curly Turkey, Dthomsen8, Guy Harris, KylieTastic,
Niceguyedc, Ohconfucius, 8 anonymous edits
Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
Image:Flame 002.png Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0 Contributors: Will Eisner,
uploaded by Roygbiv666
Image:A.B.Frost 1881-07 Harper's monthly 374 vol63 p320 our cat eats rat poison.png Source:'s_monthly_374_vol63_p320_our_cat_eats_rat_poison.png License: Public Domain Contributors: Closeapple, Encolpe,
Infrogmation, Jon Harald Sby, Leyo, Zolo
Image:New York World - Twain.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Celithemis, J 1982,
M2545, Ragesoss
Image:1896-11-08 Yellow Kid.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: FA2010, Infrogmation,
Paracel63, 1 anonymous edits
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